Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trail Name, Revisited

I've been contemplating this whole trail name thing for a while now, trying to decide between keeping my old name from the AT (Amtrak), or figuring out a new/better name for myself for this round.

So far, on the PCT permit, and various trail registration sites (Yogi's, registering at the Mann's), I used Amtrak, figuring out I'll just go with my default. I'm used to it. I do quite like it. It will feel like I'm back on the AT, continuing my old adventure...

However - a recent development in the field of optional trail names has led me to think again about adopting a new one. I present to you, the new contender - Mango.

And here are the pros, in no specific order:
  • I love Mango. Mostly because it is the best fruit ever. It also makes a mean Lassi.
  • It's an anagram of my name (well, of "Noam G" - but I can try and go with "la Mango" as my "full trail name").
  • I can also say it derives from Man-(on-the)-Go, which is very far fetched and was completely by accident. But it does give it some extra points.
So, back at square one. I suspect I won't declare a final winner until I actually land in San Diego. Maybe even only after I finish my hike (wherever that will be).

Another great reason:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

All Patched Up

It only took about 11+ years, but I have finally got my AT patches sewn to my backpack.

Actually, I remember I sewed similar patches to the backpack I carried with me on the Appalachian Trail. I was chasing TNF for some minor warranty repairs (I wasn't expecting much, just some minor fixes on the hip belt), but when I finally sent it over (for the third time) for repairs, I ended up getting a new (identical) pack, without my prized patches.

I immediately ordered a new set of patches from the ATC, put them in a ziplock, and had them wait for me in the back of a drawer for 10 years.

All sewn up and ready to go
Well, last weekend I gave my pack to a seamster I know (Thanks, Amnon), and he did the delicate job of hand sewing it to the mesh. So now I'm all happy and excited.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Seam Sealing My Tent

After putting it off for too long, I decided yesterday it's time for me to seam seal my Tarptent Rainbow. I did it once, several years ago, but I figured it's safer to give it another go before I go out on the PCT.

I found an old tube of Seam Grip in my hiking gear closet, and I took some turpentine and went to my in-laws house to set up the tent on their lawn.

The "before" photo. Get ready, because the "after" photo will appear to be the same.
I watched Tarptent's instructional video (at the bottom of the page) on how to seam seal their tents, and went to give it a go.

The Seam Grip was mostly dry already, but I managed to squeeze a bit into a plastic container. The turpentine didn't impress it much, and it remain in the same general state as it was when leaving the tube. I went out to the nearest hardware store (which was quite near, actually), and bought a can of paint thinner and a new brush. They managed to swindle me out of an extra 2 shekels, because I didn't notice how much they charged me for those two items. Oh well.

Back at the house, I tried with some more mostly dry Seam Grip, and the pain thinner. No luck - still had a plastic cup with some thinner, and Seam Grip chunks floating about. It was getting late on Friday noon, and I figured the hardware store is closed by now. I was thinking about hitting the trail with my tent as it is, pushing through the first two weeks, and then getting someone to help me seam seal it at the Kick Off. Seemed like a passable plan.

Then I figured I'd give it another try, and headed to the store again. It was still open, and I said nothing about the earlier mistake in the bill, and bought a new tube of clear silicone gel. This time everything worked as planned - the silicone dissolved in the thinner, and I used the brush along the seams, with a paper towel to try and push the silicone inside them. I hope the paper towel didn't absorb too much of the solution, and left enough on the seam itself.
The "after" photo. Told you it's going to appear almost the same.
Well, the tent is still there, drying. I plan on passing through there and pack it up on my way to the Israeli Kick Off meeting that is planned for today. I just hope the seams are sealed properly.

I also had a tiny bit left overs to put some stripes on the tent's floor, but now I'm thinking I should have added some more, because it doesn't seem to be enough down there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cheap, Light, Durable. Can't have it all.

I got my "Strange pair of shades" about two weeks ago, and haven't really used them anywhere. They didn't look so good, so I figured I'll save them for the trail. Once I'm all stinky and dirty, I don't think anyone would mind them.

Well, I took them out of their little container last night, put them on for several minutes (while at home), and left them on the kitchen table. This morning I decided to fold them back into the container, and they just snapped.

Nice table cloth though, right?
I thought I Got a cheap, light and durable item for my hike, but I guess there are no shortcuts. The high quality, light stuff is expensive. Or at least, not as cheap as those shades were. I guess I will just buy a pair of standard, normal shades at some supermarket. They will be heavier, but they will last longer.

I got a reply from SportEyz, and they have already refunded my purchase, including the shipment. I can't complain about their customer service.

Monday, March 3, 2014

And now with PCTA Permits as well!

I got back home this evening, and the PCTA Long Distance Hiking Permit was waiting for me in the mail. So that's it - I'm all set to go.

I also registered on the ADZPCTKO site, and posted a request for rides to and from Idyllwild. I hope that works as well.

It also reminds me - next week we are having the Israeli Kick Off gathering. I think this is the 3rd year it's being held. I only been to the one last year, and I really enjoyed it. Met many hikers who did the trail in 2012 and before, and several who were heading out just after the meeting. I remember back then I was telling everyone I hope to go out and start the trail in April 2014. I can hardly believe it's actually happening just over a month from now. *gulp*

Well, have a good week. I hope my planning spreadsheet is helping someone. Nobody really commented on it or asked any specific questions. Feel free to contact me if you want to ask anything.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

PCT Hike Plan V2

I have finally finished updating my planning spreadsheet, and it's ready to be released upon the world. I know most thru-hikers already have their plan laid out for them (the ones that plan ahead, anyway), but I still think this is a nice and flexible tool to use before and during your hike, to try and estimate how many days of food are needed between resupplies, and difficulties along the trail.

For starters, I updated all the distances and elevation gains to use Halfmile's 2014 data. I would like to thank both Lon Cooper and David Lippke for sharing their data with me so generously, and answering my constant nagging regarding the best way to calculate different values for my tables. I also blatantly copied some data from their trail notes, with their permission.

Basically, I took my original plan spreadsheet, and normalized the table into three different ones. What it means is that the first sheet of the new spreadsheet (called "Mile Points") now contains exit points along the trail, where you can walk or hitch a ride to a resupply store or post office. Each such mile point has its distance from the Mexican border (I guess southbounders should subtract that number from 2669 to get their mileage), and cumulative elevation gain from there as well (ignoring elevation loss).

The second sheet of the spreadsheet (called "Resupply Points") lists all the different stores, towns and resorts hikers usually go to, along the trail. Each such place also contains the description copied from Halfmile's trail notes, 2014 edition.

These two sheets are mostly "static" - they shouldn't change much when planning your hike, unless some info needs updating, or mileage is changed. But they contain the basic data that the entire plan is based upon.

The third sheet (called "Stops") is where most of the action is. Over here, each "mile point" is paired with a "resupply point", which means that on a specific location (Interstate Highway 5, for example), you can exit to several different supply points (Castella, Dunsmuir or Mt. Shasta City), and vice versa. In each such section, there might be some extra walking to be done, and/or some hitch hiking needed as well, before you reach the actual resupply point. On that sheet's final column, you can mark "true" in every place you want to resupply. Leave that column empty to skip that resupply point completely.

Now you can move over to the final sheet ("Final Plan"), which will show you all the info for your planned hike, including start and stop locations for each section, resupply locations at section's end, total distance (including extra walking off trail) and total elevation gain.

In this sheet you should put in your expected hiking pace (mph), how many hours of hiking you intend to do each day, and the penalty of elevation gain on your speed (extra minutes for each 1000'). By default, each section uses the same values as the previous section. But if along the trail you start hiking faster, or longer, any change made on a specific section would immediately reflect on all following sections as well.

Another thing to update would be your start date, or the date when you intend to start hiking form the Mexican border. Again - all subsequent sections' start dates depend on the previous section's end date. But if you add a day to some start date up the trail, for taking a zero, it will also update all the next sections by the same amount. Easy. The dates will also be painted in red if they fall on a Sunday or Saturday, so you can know in advance when your plan puts you in a town while the PO is closed.

The final plan also shows the resupply point's description, for easily see what options it contain.

So - here is the link. Just follow it, and then click on File->Make a copy... to create an editable copy of that spreadsheet in your own Google Drive. Currently, the spreadsheet will not export well to Excel, but it can be easily fixed, if there is a demand for it.

Share and enjoy, and feel free to comment, ask questions, and drop a line.